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A free online course will equip athletes, sports administrators, coaches and officials representing Australia on and off the field with the skills, understanding and etiquette to be effective ambassadors through sport.

The world’s first Sport Diplomacy MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) was launched today by

La Trobe University in partnership with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

La Trobe Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI) Director, Associate Professor Geoff Dickson said sport had universal appeal and was a powerful way to share positive messages about Australia’s culture and values.

“Many sporting people – coaches, athletes, journalists, event organisers and sport managers – have an enormously positive impact as they represent their country overseas,” Associate Professor Dickson said.

“Every team or individual who leaves our shores for their sport has the potential to engage, inform, promote goodwill and create a positive impression of contemporary Australia and our values”.

“The Sports Diplomacy MOOC includes practical tips, advice and insights to help our national representatives ensure their positive impact goes beyond the court, pool or stadium,” Associate Professor Dickson said.

The course will provide participants with a good understanding of Australian sporting values and the soft power potential of sport.

Members of the Australian Government’s Sports Diplomacy Advisory Council Sports Diplomacy Advisory Council provide expert guidance, including former Australian cricketer Lisa Sthalekar.

“Sport transcends linguistic, cultural and religious divides. Sports diplomacy is now recognised as playing a crucial role in building relations within the Indo-Pacific region,” Ms Sthalekar said.

“Through this course, we want to empower the sporting community to fulfil their unique role in making Australia’s presence even more recognised and respected in international circles.”

The course was created by La Trobe Adjunct Professor Matt Nicholson, with CSSI Research Fellows Dr Dennis Hemphill and Dr Caroline Symons, and Mr Michael Woods from Impact Leaders Online. 

The MOOC is delivered via a series of videos and exercises, and features David Pocock (rugby), Gavin Wanganeen (AFL), James Tomkins (rowing), Steve Moneghetti (marathon running), Ian Thorpe (swimming), Annabelle Williams (Paralympic swimming) and Michelle Phippard (Netball).

Subjects covered in the course include:

  • Official, cultural, public and sports diplomacy
  • Australian foreign policy
  • How sport can showcase Australian culture and values
  • Personal branding and reputation
  • Cultural awareness
  • Diplomatic tradecraft
  • Networking, protocols and etiquette
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